History has always revealed the power of one man doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. And many a time it is the greatest influence on our society. With forest land being decimated across the planet, the initiative for reforestation by a few individuals has counted a lot and has inspired people and even an indifferent administration to stand behind them. Hikmet Kaya is one such instance of individual effort.
The retired forest chief has collectively planted over 30M saplings during his tenure, and even after his retirement, and reforested a barren corner of Turkey. Kaya started as a forest officer in the forest department in 1978 in the Boyabat district, Sinop Province, Turkey. He started his afforestation efforts with his team and villagers and transformed the barren stretch into a lush green forest during his 25 years in office.
Reforestation Efforts Are Urgently Needed In Turkey Which Has Faced A Decline Of 5.4% Of Forest Land Since 2000
He has continued with his reforestation efforts even after his retirement and the region is a witness to his Herculean struggles. Kaya appreciates the help offered by local villagers and expresses pride and satisfaction in his amazing effort.
Turkey has faced an unprecedented decline in forest cover and Global Forest Watch has revealed that it has decreased by 5.4% since 2000.
There have been other instances of individual reforestation efforts that have transformed barren stretches of land in various areas of the world. In the northeastern state of Assam, a humble tribal farmer spent forty years single-handedly planting a 1360-acre (around 550 hectares).
The Forest Man Of India
‘The Forest Man of India,’ a title bestowed by the Indian Government on World Earth Day, 2010, turned a stretch in Majuli, the largest riverine island in the world, into a dense forest inhabited by many animals and bird species. He started his efforts in 1979, enduring to this day.
The forest draws 80% of the migratory birds passing through the area. Officially named the Molai forest, in honor of the Forest Man. The unassuming forest man rejects any credit for his reforestation efforts. He says that the birds, animals, wind, and have all helped him in his efforts.
Jadav lives within the forest he has created, a humble abode of clay, bamboo, and cow dung. When he first started with his reforestation efforts, people took him to be crazy. But he continued to plant saplings every day and took care of them. He still has the boat he used when he first started four decades back.
Jadav was inspired by an agricultural scientist, Jadabesh Barua, who gave him saplings and money to sustain his efforts at reforestation.
Jadav speaks of how it requires 5 years of tender care to turn a sapling into an independent tree. He wishes that children would participate in reforestation efforts as part of their curriculum. He says that if people had realized the importance of reforestation 30 years back, they would not have faced the present climate change. He points out that if we cannot protect our ecosystem, the large strides we have made in other areas are meaningless.
A Photo Journalist’s Quest For Self-Healing Led To Reforestation In A Part Of Brazil
A photojournalist returned to his barren homeland in Brazil and turned it into a thriving forest with hundreds of flora and fauna in 20 years. Sebastiao Salgado and his wife Leila Deluiz Wanick.
When Salgado returned in the 1990s, exhausted after covering the Rwandan Genocide, he realized that his homeland was as sick as he was. Only 0.5% of the land was covered in trees. The couple founded Instituto Terra and helped in reforestation efforts by planting over 4 million saplings and bringing the forest back from the dead.
15% of all our greenhouse gas emissions are a result of deforestation and innumerable species of plant and animal life are lost each day. These are devastating figures for the planet and directly threaten life on earth. Kaya, Salgado, and Jadav have shown what a group of dedicated and passionate people can achieve singlehandedly without the support of the administration.
All Image Credits: tohumtoprak